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The geographies of encounter in community-based social action projects in West Yorkshire

SLATCHER, SAMUEL,PETER (2018) The geographies of encounter in community-based social action projects in West Yorkshire. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The question of how to ‘live with difference’ is at the forefront of public debate by policy makers, community organisers and those working in diverse communities. In the UK specifically, recent years of increased migration and rising socio-economic inequalities have prompted those working in diverse communities to cultivate cross-cultural encounters between different groups to improve our capacity to live with difference.

This thesis follows one such example of how practitioners working in diverse communities design and implement cross-cultural projects that aim to encourage encounters with difference. The Near Neighbours Programme was set up by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Church Urban Fund (CUF) to fund small-scale community action projects designed to improve local neighbourhoods and, in doing so, create ‘encounters’ between different ethnic and faith groups. Through 11 months of in-depth ethnographic research into the activities of Near Neighbours and some of their funded projects in West Yorkshire (northern England), this thesis contributes rich insights into: how projects are designed and practiced to shape the conditions of encounter; how people are equipped to engage with difference; the way in which projects are governed; and finally how practitioners reflect on their neighbourhoods through collaborative and participatory research.

In doing so, this thesis engages with contemporary debates within Human Geography around inter-cultural encounters with difference and critical governance studies on how difference is managed and negotiated. In debates within the geographies of encounter literature, this thesis advances understandings of how practitioners design, plan and implement projects of encounter. Engaging with critical governance studies, this thesis offers a more hopeful account of ‘governance’ as I argue that the unpredictability of encounter keeps open the possibility of partnership across difference. Through developing an account of the work of practitioners, this thesis contributes to those who are setting out to engage in community development in an inter-cultural context, by highlighting the role of space in shaping capacities to act, as well as how researchers and practitioners might work together to collaborate on participatory research into safe spaces for meaningful encounters with difference.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Encounter, Difference, Community Engagement, Participatory Research, Governance, West Yorkshire
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Jun 2018 15:10

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